Netflix’s Big Vape: what is it about and when is it streaming as the UK continues to debate vape usage?

‘Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul’ arrives on Netflix during a period of political discussion surrounding vaping in the United Kingdom.
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Vaping became quite the political discussion point during the latest UK party conferences last week, so fitting then that a new Netflix series, ‘Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul’ focuses on one of the powerhouses of the trend - Juul - and their subsequent rise and fall from grace and the marketplace position they once held. 

Based on the book, ‘Big Vape: The Incendiary Rise of Juul,’ by TIME correspondent Jamie Ducharme, the four-part Netflix series tells the story of the vaping device that became a household name, exploring how one company’s innovation went from achieving peak financial highs to running into devastating lows.

After a substantial social media marketing campaign, Juul became the leading e-cigarette brand in the United States by the end of 2017 and held a market share of 72% as of September 2018. Juul also purchased ad space in Seventeen magazine and on the Nick Jr. Channel TV network. According to documents obtained by the Massachusetts Attorney General's office, Juul bought ads on seventeen different educational, gaming, and crafting sites directed towards middle and high school students. Its widespread use by young people has raised concerns within the public health community and prompted multiple investigations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

In 2018, as part of an investigation by the FDA, Juul agreed to pull certain flavoured cartridges from the market due to concerns about underage use. In 2019, the company reached a settlement with the Center for Environmental Health, under which it agreed to scale back and restrict its marketing efforts to those who are appropriately aged. 

By July 2020, Juul's market share fell to 42%, and as of September 2022, it was 28%. A 2022 survey found that Juul is the third most popular e-cigarette brand among middle-school and high-school students, used by 22% of e-cigarette users. On June 23, 2022, the FDA denied authorization for Juul to continue selling its products in the United States and issued Marketing Denial Orders banning any further marketing or sale of the products effective immediately. 

That order was blocked by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. the next day.

What is ‘Big Vape’ about?

“At one time in recent history, Juul was one of the fastest-growing companies in the world. First released in 2015 by parent company Pax Labs, the nicotine e-cigarette was already valued at $38 billion by 2018. It was one of the most spectacular corporate success stories in the making — until it wasn’t.”

Has vaping come up during the UK party conference speeches?

Indeed it has - both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party have brought up the topic of vaping during their speeches at their respective party conferences. 

During his speech at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced significant measures to address the issue of smoking and vaping among children in England, unveiling a plan to raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco, starting from the current age of 18. This means that every 12 months, the legal age for buying cigarettes will increase by one year.

Additionally, Sunak addressed the issue of vaping among children, promising to take action against child-friendly flavours and packaging that may encourage youngsters to adopt the habit. Disposable vaping devices were also mentioned as a target for regulation.

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, has said Labour will come down on the vaping industry “like a ton of bricks” to stop it selling and marketing its products if the government has not acted by the time of the general election. He also said that Labour will whip its MPs to vote in favour of Rishi Sunak’s plan to gradually raise the age at which people can buy cigarettes so that younger generations can never buy them

When is ‘Big Vape’ available on Netflix?

‘Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul’ is scheduled to arrive on Netflix on October 11 2023 in the United Kingdom.

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